Heartfelt congratulations to the three winners of the International Viola Competition “Città di Cremona”!
Matthew Cohen, 2nd prize
American violist Matthew Cohen made his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 15 as a soloist in the New York premiere of Tomas Svoboda’s Sonata No.2 for orchestra and solo string quartet. He returned to Carnegie Hall last January to perform York Bowen’s Phantasy for viola and piano in Weill Recital Hall. Recent accolades include 1st prize at the 2015 VIVO International Competition and special prizewinner at the 2014 Primrose International Viola Competition. He has studied at the Juilliard School, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Colburn Conservatory and has performed as a soloist numerous times with ensembles such as the Colburn Orchestra, Oregon Sinfonietta, and Oregon Symphony/Oregon Ballet Theater. He has performed chamber music with many distinguished artists including Arnold Steinhardt, Daniel Hope, Paul Coletti, Ronald Leonard, Clive Greensmith, Martin Beaver, Amit Peled, Sandra Rivers, and Joaquin Valdepeñas. His recording of York Bowen’s Phantasy for viola and piano is available on the Soundset label. He plays a viola by Helmuth Keller and bow by Paul Martin Siefried generously on loan from The Maestro Foundation and is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at the Juilliard School in the Master of Music program where he studies with Heidi Castleman and Cynthia Phelps.
Muriel Razavi, 2nd prize
Muriel Razavi was born on July 7th, 1992 to an American mother and a Persian father in Freiburg, Germany. In 2011 she began studying with Prof. Nils Mönkemeyer at the University of Music and Theatre in Munich. In 2012 she was accepted to the class of Prof. Tabea Zimmermann at the University of Music “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin where she continues to study. In 2015 she was personally invited by Daniel Barenboim to join his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. She played as an Academist in the DSO (Deutsches Symphonie Orchester) Berlin and is currently an Academist in the historically authentic Chamber Orchestra “Balthasar Neumann Ensemble” with Thomas Hengelbrock. Muriel won many first prizes at the National Youth Competition of Germany including a first prize with highest points in the category “Viola solo” in 2010. She has profited from further musical training at international master classes working with renowned musicians such as Rainer Kussmaul, Hatto Beyerle, Wolfram Christ, Nobuko Imai and Tatjana Masurenko. Muriel has been invited to play chamber music at various German music festivals such as the Mecklenburg- Vorpommern Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival and the Rheingau Musik Festival. In February 2015 after a successful audition, she was invited to the “International Seiji Ozawa Academy Switzerland”. In September 2015 she joined the “International Zermatt Festival Academy” with the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Muriel received a scholarship to join the International Music Academy in Liechtenstein and participates in the musical activities of the festival.
Raphaël Pagnon, 3rd prize
After studying violin at the conservatories in Reims and Marseille, Raphaël Pagnon was admitted to the classes of Annick Roussin and Christophe Poiget in Paris. Concurrently he began his viola studies with Michel Michalakakos and was admitted in the same year to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris (CNSMDP) in the class of Pierre- Henri Xuereb, where he graduated in 2015 in viola performance with the highest marks. A chamber music enthusiast, Raphaël has performed with renowned musicians including Dong-Suk Kang, Pascal Devoyon, Raphaël Chrétien, Dejan Bogdanovic. He has also received advice from Yuri Bashmet, Garth Knox, François Salque, and the Ébene and Modigliani Quartets. He was the winner of the Grand Prix du Département Bouches du Rhône, and a prize-winner at the National Competition for Young Violists, and at the Bellan and Tertis Competitions. He is supported by the “Fondation Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot” (Burgundy). In 2016 Raphaël has been admitted to the Staatskapelle Akademie Berlin directed by Daniel Barenboim. He plays a viola made by Friedrich Alber in 2014.
The jury (Jerzy Kosmala, Michael Kugel, Marco Rogliano, Sonig Tchakerian, Augusto Vismara), unanimously decided not to award the first prize.
Dr. Jerzy Kosmala, concert violist and pedagogue, has performed all over the world and has recordings on Orion, Vox/MGM, and Centaur labels. He is a frequent guest artist at the world’s foremost festivals, Viola Congresses, universities and academies, and is a regular jury member of many international competitions. In addition, he has adapted and published numerous compositions for viola and has premiered many contemporary works. Kosmala serves on the faculty of the U.C. Irvine, and was a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Michael Kugel completed his studies in viola, composition and conducting at the Rimsky- Korsakov Leningrad (St. Petersburg) State Conservatory. In 1975 he won First Prize at the in Budapest Competition. From 1990 to 1996 he was professor at the Jerusalem Rudin Academy. Since 1996 he has been a Professor at the Maastricht Royal Conservatory. Michael Kugel has enriched the viola repertoire with many transcriptions as well as compositions of his own. He has been featured in many recordings as viola soloist, as conductor, and on the viola d’amore.
Violinist Marco Rogliano studied with Antonio Salvatore, Ruggiero Ricci, Riccardo Brengola, Salvatore Accardo and made his international debut as a soloist in 1989 performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in Sweden with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ari Rasilainen. A sought after chamber musician and new music champion, Rogliano has soloed worldwide with orchestras such as Moscow Radio Symphony, Berliner Symphoniker, Orchestra RAI, Italian Chamber Orchestra, I Pomeriggi Musicali etc. He has recorded extensively as a soloist.
Violinist Sonig Tchakerian began performing guided by her father, later studied with Gugliemo, Accardo, Milstein. She is Artistic Director of the chamber music series “Settimane Musicali” at Teatro Olimpico in Rome, and teaches advanced violin at the Accademia Nazionale S. Cecilia. Sonig has recorded extensively; new music has been written for her. She has a desire to return to her native Armenia with tours and concerts, as roots and the future are for her two realities that must not be betrayed. She plays a magnificent Gagliano violin (Naples 1760).
Before devoting his talent to playing the violin and conducting, Augusto Vismara was principal violist with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra in his native Florence and later with Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Orchestra della Scala, Orchestra della Fenice, Montecarlo Opera, Zurich Chamber Orchestra under conductors such as Giuseppe Sinopoli, Christian Thielemann, Antonio Janigro, Peter Maag and Luciano Berio. Italian contemporary composers Luciano Berio, Sylvano Bussotti, Salvatore Sciarrino and Ada Gentile have written for and about him.